World Rugby’s high-hits strategy is under scrutiny by England coach Steve Borthwick.

World Rugby’s high-hits strategy is under scrutiny by England coach Steve Borthwick.

Referee Nika Amashukeli initially issued Owen Farrell a yellow card, which was later reviewed and upgraded to a red by the foul play review official, also known as the “bunker” system.

After a number of contentious events during the World Cup, England coach Steve Borthwick questioned the consistency of World Rugby’s high tackle policy.

According to Borthwick, the international governing body of rugby union has been less outspoken about high tackles during the competition than it was about the incident that resulted in England captain Owen Farrell’s four-match suspension.

At the World Cup, incidents involving Frenchman Romain Taofifenua, New Zealander Ethan de Groot, Chilean Martin Sigren, and South African Jesse Kriel all sparked discussion about high tackling.

Meanwhile, Farrell has yet to play in the competition after World Rugby intervened to successfully appeal against a disciplinary panel’s decision to reinstate his red card from a warm-up game against Wales on August 12.

“I have noticed the substantial commentary from various sources about what appears to be a lack of consistency and a lack of transparency surrounding the decision-making process,” said Borthwick.

Obviously, it is not my place to comment on that; World Rugby should do that.

“I also want to point out that World Rugby made a ton of comments about Owen Farrell over the course of a couple of weeks as we were preparing for this competition; it was a situation that persisted and generated a ton of comments from World Rugby.

I’ve noticed that, according to what I’ve been told, World Rugby hasn’t made many comments lately.

Farrell was dismissed from the Wales match for a shoulder to the flanker Taine Basham’s head, but the decision was overturned by the disciplinary panel due to a late change in the circumstances surrounding the tackle.

World Rugby then took the unusual step of appealing that choice, and a second independent panel agreed with the organization that governs the sport, stating that clearing Farrell was “manifestly wrong” and disqualifying him from playing in four contests, including England’s Rugby World Cup matches against Argentina and Japan.

Last Saturday, England overcame Argentina in a valiant effort with George Ford filling in for Farrell at 10, but controversy has been raised over World Rugby’s apparent lackadaisical handling of a number of similar high-tackle calls by officials.

Taofifenua, a second-row player for France, came under scrutiny on Thursday night after only receiving a warning for a high tackle against Uruguay.
Despite doubts about whether there were enough mitigating circumstances to avoid receiving a red card and whether mitigation should have even been considered.

From the third minute of England’s victory over Argentina, 14 players were on the field due to Tom Curry’s head-on collision with Argentina full-back Juan Cruz Mallia.

Players who hit high without making a genuine tackle attempt must be dismissed by officials.
In the end, it was determined that Farrell was ineligible for any form of mitigation because he led with his shoulder and didn’t try to ‘wrap’ his arms around Basham.

The cases of Chile’s Sigren, who received a yellow card against Japan, Chile’s De Groot, who received a red card against Namibia, and South Africa’s Kriel, whose tackle on Scotland’s Jack Dempsey went unpunished and unnoticed, have also drawn attention.

In their last six games, England have received four red cards, though one of those—Freddie Steward’s dismissal against Ireland—was later overturned.

As opposed to being a sign of a lack of discipline, Borthwick insists that his team’s recent run of red cards are isolated incidents.

“If you’re talking about discipline, we gave away seven penalties last week [against Argentina], so this is a disciplined team,” he said.

We want 15 players on the field because of the incidents that led to cards being issued against our team. That is vital information.

Borthwick praised England’s supporters in Marseille, saying that they had helped the team recover from their most recent run-in with the law when Tom Curry was dismissed against Argentina in the third minute.

They noticed that gap, filled it, and joined our team as player number 15.
They were incredible, I thought,” he said.

Since 2000, I’ve had the honor of participating in this team in a variety of ways and while away from home a few times. And that was the strongest English support I’ve ever heard.

Between 2012 and 2015, former captain Borthwick served as Japan’s forwards coach, which was one of his assignments away from the England team.

I have a very close connection to Japan, he claimed.

I had the great fortune to spend a few years in Tokyo.
The Japanese national team is a very special one, and Japan is a special place. We are aware that we will need to play outstanding defense because the Japanese team plays with exceptional ball movement and puts you to the test in ways that few other teams do.


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